While channel hopping (bad habit - hard to quit!) on Friday night, I came across the end of Bruce Springsteen live in Dublin 2007. I loved his version of When the Saints go Marching In and This Little Light of Mine - so on Saturday went out and bought DVD and CD version from a wee independent music shop in Perth.
By the way, how do high street chains expect to survive if they only sell music that's in the charts? They're not doing theselves any favours in my book! Anyway ...
One of the songs on Sprinsteen's live recording is "How can a poor man stand such times and live". On the same day, the headline soory in The Herald was "Debt figures reach record levels". Spot the connection?
It seems that for some 'poor' people (not necessarily poor in material terms), the answer is to borrow more. Why? Because our society increasingly seems to encourage material acquisition (like Springsteen CD's?). How have we managed to turn shopping in to a pastime? I've asked my teenage daughter - response was quizzical look, which meant that I was being weird again!
More importantly, what could the church do about this state of affairs (materialism and debt - not my daughter)? How can we be salt and light in the modern world?
We can be light by supporting those in debt - building relationships and using the skills that we have within our churches to support people - as Christians Against Poverty do.
But what about salt? How can we have a preserving influence? What behaviours can we model that will help? How do we tackle the needs of the apparently prosperous in our middle class, suburban world? I don't have answers. But I'm sure that for churches in the West, this is an important dimension of incarnational, transformational living - ideas on a postcard ...?
"Well, the doctor comes 'round here with his face all bright
And he says "in a little while you'll be alright"
All he gives is a humbug pill, a dose of dope and a great big bill
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?
He says "me and my old school pals had some might high times down here
And what happened to you poor black folks, well it just ain't fair"
He took a look around gave a little pep talk, said "I'm with you" then he took a little walk
Tell me, how can a poor man stand such times and live?"
- Blind Alfred Reed and Bruce Springsteen